Rail experts in sustainability and rolling stock believe the network can make “substantial progress” in decearbonising operations by 2040.
This is detailed in the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Task Force and the RSSB; it revealed the removable of diesel-only trains is achievable in the battle to decarbonise the railways in the next 20 years – although it acknowledged there is no “silver bullet” solution.
The government has welcomed the report, and its own efforts were highlighted recently, with the news that five projects have received a share of £1.75 million to accelerate the reduction of the carbon footprint on Britain’s railways.
Rail experts confirm that railways are critical in offering one of the UK’s lowest carbon transport options for both passengers and freight, with a focus on technologies to support decarbonisation.
Electrification is key to this; the rail experts have agreed with calls from transport bodies last year that electrification on intensively-used routes – when it is both cost effective and appropriate – will result in key benefits.
This has to be balanced with making sure passenger delays and disruptions do not get out of hand.
But this is not the only decarbonising approach for the railways in future years: the report suggested that a consensus is needed on local, targeted roles that newer, emerging options including hydrogen, hybrid and battery can play.
All of this ties in neatly with the plans to reduce pollution – the fourth biggest threat to public health – and improve the air quality in the UK.
Malcolm Brown, Chair of the Task Force, said emphasised the importance of electrification and emerging technologies.
He said: “Electrification and emerging technologies both have a role to play. We believe our report provides an excellent insight, informed by experts across the whole industry and beyond, into how ambitious we can afford to be, and what needs to happen next in industry and government to make it a reality.”